by Caitlyn Johnstone
December 21, 2017
Most people tend to get outside in summer to experience all it has to offer. Tourists flock to the bays and beaches to lie in the sun, kayak the rivers, surf the waves and explore the forests while little kids splash in the creeks to hunt for crayfish. As the weather cools, the kids retire indoors, the tourists go home and the park goers turn to other pursuits. The outdoors returns to the natural world – which makes it an excellent time to go outside.
Birdwatchers harbor the open secret of winter viewing. The Chesapeake’s location along the Atlantic flyway makes this area an ideal resting spot for migratory birds during their season-changing flights. Tundra swans, white birds with black bills, make a pleasingly minimalist addition to a winter scene. Never seen a tundra swan? Put on a parka and brave the outdoors. This particular bird spends only its winter in the Chesapeake, returning north to the arctic tundra as soon as the spring brings a thaw.
For those that want to remain indoors, keep an eye out your window. With insects scarce and food harder to find in winter, birds will more frequently visit bird feeders. Against a snowy landscape, the bright colors of songbirds stand out in greater contrast. Interested in the accipiters, or bird hawks? The increase in small birds in concentrated areas will bring the hawks. All birds must eat, and the natural cycle can be a breathtaking experience to witness first-hand. This winter, try doing so out your window over a cozy cup of cocoa.
For the hunters and anglers of the watershed, the changes of the animals bring new excitement and challenges. It is not until the air chills and days grow short that deer hunters perk up and begin to scout the woods, silent and watchful. “Fish in a barrel” is a phrase that means “too easy” for a reason. If you are an angler and want to test your mettle as a fly fisher, try visiting your local waterways in winter. You will hone your technical skill and may experience the solitude that comes with a deserted river and the soft hiss of falling snow onto stream ripples. As Robert Frost knew all too well, there is a peace of mind to the woods in winter.
Whether you hike, watch, hunt or paint, get creative this winter and experience how your local landscape transforms.